How do you guys feel about specialists? Since I don’t do endodontics or oral surgery in my office, I depend on them and refer patients often. But there are some things I wish they would—or wouldn’t—do. For that reason, I thought it might be a good idea to create a list for specialists on the dos and don’ts of working with a general dentist:
Do: Follow up with me when I refer a patient. I would like to know what procedure he or she had and when it was completed.
Don’t: Assume that my patient will know to follow up with me right away. You may have just completed the world’s best root canal, but if it is covered by a leaky IRM for six months until the patient’s next recall visit, we may have a problem.
Do: Send treats to my staff on a regular basis. They LOVE treats.
Don’t: Have a general dentist secretly working for you in your practice. Word travels fast and your referrals will eventually become nonexistent if you become greedy and keep all of the dental work for yourself.
Do: Regularly mail our office your business cards or referral slips. When we run out, we might forget to call and ask for more and instead give out the card of another doctor that we have on hand.
Don’t: Recommend additional treatment to my patients. This didn’t happen to me, but someone I know went to an oral surgeon for an extraction, during which the surgeon suggested he also have other teeth removed because they were not restorable. The general dentist disagreed and I do not think she will be referring to that oral surgeon again anytime soon.
Do: Respond to my texts or emails quickly. Sometimes I will have a patient in the chair, and I love being able to quickly text another doctor for a second opinion. Also, I really appreciate being able to tell my patient that I have spoken to the specialist and that he or she is fully informed about the treatment plan before the patient even shows up to the office.
Don’t: Post statements or articles on social media that are meant to discourage a patient from seeing a general dentist for procedures that should “only be performed by a specialist.” I know many general practitioners who are excellent at crown lengthening, orthodontics, placing implants, and so forth.
Do: Compliment me on my dental work. Flattery will get you everywhere.
What else am I missing? Please post a comment below!
Lilya Horowitz, DDS